HOT TOPIC: Plate Tectonics
Volume 1, Issue 30 - April 17, 2005

"While there are many captivating topics in the sciences which draw students in, there is nothing that sparks the imagination of students quite like plate tectonics and the related sciences surrounding this theory. From early on when we first learn about continental drift, we no longer look at earth the same. Suddenly we are aware that we are free-floating on sliding discs of rock which can collide and create incredible phenomena: earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis to name a few. Even in our studies of the social sciences, the notion of Pangaea and the evolving definition of each continent eventually permeate our safe study of maps and globes. Plate tectonics is an unsettling theory – and kids love it!

With the technologies available on the Web, surely there must be a plethora of excellent resources on plate tectonics. After all, it’s such a high-interest topic and there are so many fascinating concepts that warrant simulation and animation! Yet I am here to report to you this morning that this is not the case. Many of the best of the early earth science web sites have been abandoned or have disappeared all together. And with the ongoing commercialization of the Web, the content previously developed by well-meaning educators is being bought up and replaced by corporations whose primary motives are more profit-based and less altruistic.

Still, with the proper amount of digging and some patience, there are some worthwhile sites out there which teachers should be aware of. Yes, some of them are little more than electronic textbooks, but others truly make the most of Web technology, offering a feat for the eyes, ears and mind. In the best examples, the information is not only animated it is interactive. Visitors are actually able to manipulate images to test and internalize how plate tectonic concepts operate in nature. And while these examples are not plentiful, when one is found it’s a cause for excitement.

I hope you will share in my enthusiasm for the recommended sites this week. Especially if you are a visual learner, these sites can truly aid in an understanding of plate tectonics in general and in specific earth science phenomena in particular. Please find enclosed twelve great ways (and more) to extend and enrich your earth science curriculum! ….."


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